Lord for the Body

Lord for the Body: Religion, Medicine, and Protestant Faith Healing in Canada, 1880-1930

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Lord for the Body
    Book Description:

    In the early 1920s, English-Canadians were captivated by the urban campaigns of faith healing evangelists. Crowds squeezed into local arenas to witness the afflicted, "slain in the spirit," casting away braces and crutches. Professional faith healers, although denounced by critics as promoting mass hypnotism, gained notoriety and followers in their call for people to choose "the Lord for the Body."

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7446-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    The epigraph above accompanies the title page to Robertson Davies’ final novel,The Cunning Man(1994). In the opening pages of the book, the sudden death of Father Hobbes in front of the altar sets the scene for a symbolic exchange between the protagonist physician, Dr Jonathan Hullah, and his former friend Rev. Charlie Iredale, a high Anglican priest. When Hullah rushes to attend Father Hobbes, he is waved off by Iredale. The doctor muses, “We were members of two rival priesthoods, he the Man of God and I the Man of Science … We were in a church, Holy...

  6. 1 Bodily Knowledge
    (pp. 14-34)

    The body, at one time defined by the dominant religious discourses of the age, is understood today primarily through the lens of scientific medicine. In hindsight, the broad contours of the transformation from a religious to a medical understanding of the body can appear as a straightforward exercise of secularization, or more accurately, medicalization. Whether this process is regarded as the natural evolution of scientific progress, the exertion of social control in a capitalist society, or the discursive extension of the Foucauldian gaze, the shifting relations between religion and medicine produced new, competing constructions of the body in the nineteenth...

  7. 2 The Prayer of Faith
    (pp. 35-63)

    Carrie Judd’s Buffalo-based periodical,Triumphs of Faith, was only in its second year of operation when the first accounts of faith healing from Canada were reported. From Stratford, Ontario, Mrs Le Messurier recalled how her son was stricken with epilepsy in 1879. Despite the best efforts of physicians, the epileptic attacks continued unabated. Turning to her pastor in the hope that he might provide encouragement or spiritual guidance, Mrs Le Messurier was disappointed to find that the minister could only offer vague suggestions for the care and protection of her son so that in time he “might recover.” This advice...

  8. 3 A Respectable Movement
    (pp. 64-90)

    The divine healing movement entered Canada as little more than a loose network of women who shared their personal experiences with each other – at bedsides, through letters in the mail, and in the pages of American religious periodicals that were distributed north of the border. American works on faith healing circulated widely in Canada, and interested Canadians routinely investigated the phenomenon by visiting various American cities.¹ Boston, New York, and Buffalo were the main centres of attraction as Canadians travelled south to visit Charles Cullis, A.B. Simpson, and Carrie Judd. By the end of the 1880s, however, new organizations...

  9. 4 Marching to Zion
    (pp. 91-120)

    By the time Dr Lilian B. Yeomans, M.D., reached Chicago in 1898, she had already attempted every remedy she could imagine to free herself from addiction to morphine and chloral hydrate. For four years she sought both conventional and unorthodox treatments. In her home town of Winnipeg, the newly established Keeley Institute offered a “Gold Cure” to treat drug addiction, but its effectiveness was no better than that of the sanitarium for “nervous diseases,” which she attended as well. Yeomans even explored Christian Science, travelling to New York to investigate the movement, but she returned to Canada disillusioned.¹

    When she...

  10. 5 Pentecostal Power
    (pp. 121-145)

    Clara Hammerton was a recent English immigrant living in Ottawa who had grown dissatisfied with her Anglican upbringing. In 1910 she became aware of a group known as the Apostolic Faith Movement and started to attend their meetings at Queen’s Hall on the corner of Bank and Somerset Streets. After three months of spiritual struggle, Hammerton found salvation, sanctification, and healing. However, she also discovered something else: “After five days tarrying, the Lord graciously baptized me with the Holy Ghost and spake through me in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.” Although the terminology of a spirit baptism, or...

  11. 6 Revivals and Reactions
    (pp. 146-175)

    Weeks of planning were suddenly jeopardized when the auditorium booked for the revival campaign burned down. The pentecostal workers in Lethbridge, Alberta, managed to secure the local curling rink in its place, and for two weeks in June 1920 the newspapers covered the nightly meetings held by the “famous lady evangelist,” Aimee Semple McPherson, and queried “Can a Mere Woman Preach the Gospel?” While the fact that the evangelist was a woman was a curiosity, it was her healing activities that drew the most notice. TheLethbridge Heralddescribed the scene as testimonials were given to the power of God...

  12. 7 Exposing the Body
    (pp. 176-202)

    The professional faith healing evangelists hit the height of their popularity in the early 1920s, and for a time they were the object of analysis, criticism, and apologetics for a variety of commentators. One enterprising Calgary promoter even arranged to bring to the city a play about faith healing, “The Miracle Man,” based on the Frank Packard novel, just as the Charles S. Price meetings were drawing to a close. Divine healing was in the air, and even theLadies’ Home Journalcommented that “Almost any Sunday now in your own church you may hear of divine healing.”¹ The Vancouver...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 203-212)

    The contemporary image of the faith healer continues to be informed by a stereotype popularized in Sinclair Lewis’sElmer Gantry(1927). Even though faith healing only played a minor role in the novel, the characterization of Gantry as the hustling con artist and amoral evangelist who unscrupulously played upon his audience’s hopes and fears is a popular representation that has only been reinforced in the public consciousness by the television evangelist scandals of the late-1980s. Like the ahistorical question of whether faith healing is “real,” the faith healer himself is often also taken to be a static construct, typically seen...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 213-244)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-266)
  16. Index
    (pp. 267-274)